OK, so I mentioned that I went to see SiCKO on Friday. And I did really enjoy it. If you've seen any other Michael Moore movies, you know that he clearly takes sides on issues. A lot of people see him as a bit of a liberal nut. But he has always said how grateful he is that he lives in a place where he can voice his opinion when he disagrees with the powers that be. I think his willingness to stand up and speak out is very American, and very patriotic. He is using his freedom of speech more than most people.
That being said, I think SiCKO is probably one of his least political pieces. Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Independent or something else, I bet you have a horror story that has to do with health care, and more specifically, with an insurance company. This movie brings those horrors to light, and hopefully will motivate people to do something. To stop feeling so beaten by the system that we accept it, but rather rise up and demand change. To stop letting the money behind this system buy our government. To put more value on all human life than on a system that allows the rich to get richer while less rich people die from lack of care. (Jen mentions this in her post one plus two: sicko. I look forward to her writing more about it)
One thing that I don't think the movie addresses, and I would like to know more about, is medical research. Most advances in medicine, whether it be drugs or machines or new procedures, happens here in America. How can we keep funding the research but not the large CEO bank accounts?
But the thing that really got me thinking was INSURANCE. We have insurance so that we will be "covered" when we need it. Not just health insurance, which this movie focuses on, but home owners insurance and car insurance. Life insurance. We pay money into this insurance every year. If we are lucky, we rarely use it. But then something big comes along. An injury. A car accident. Cancer. A hurricane.
Living in Southeast Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina I have heard more horror stories of insurance than I could begin to count. A neighbor whose home was literally split in half by one large pine tree had a sign in from of his home that said "ALLSTATE: Am I in Good Hands???" I couldn't help but think of these stories when watching SiCKO, because it's obvious that the same principals applied. Most insurance companies did not want to help all these people that they had been taking money from for years. They quibbled over whether or not damage was done from winds or from floods (it was a HURRICANE! Wind and water come together. You can not separate the two. Unless of course the flood comes from the breaking down of levees, which were damaged by the hurricane, and so then even there you see that it's all interralated. And don't even get me started on that...) It would take months for an adjuster to come and look at a damaged home. And then the amount that they assessed the damage for would not even come close to covering the cost of repairs (even PreK, but as you can imagine, costs went through the roof - no pun intended - after the storm) Insurance companies waited and waited and waited to write checks as they fought with our government over whether or not homeowners could rebuild in that area or not. Meanwhile, people still had to pay their mortgage, as well as pay for wherever they were living instead of their home. Insurance companies would offer homeowners a buyout - insulting things like $20,000 for your home, but taking the money meant you could never come back and ask for more. People took this in desperation.
It became so obvious that the insurance companies were not interested in helping people through this tragedy. They were concerned about losing money. About not having such an incredibly large profit that year. They began refusing to write new policies in the area, and people wanting to move couldn't sell their homes because of it. They raised prices in order to keep their profits.
I do have to put in a disclaimer here: my insurance company, AAA, treated us very well after the storm We had very minor damage, but it was quickly and fairly assessed, a check was written in a timely fashion, and we were called with an offer of money to cover our evacuation expenses. Most people practically fall over when I tell them how well we were treated.
It seems to me that the idea behind insurance is that we all put our money in a pot, to be used in case of emergencies. We hope that we never have to use it. But when we do, the money from that pot should be taken out to help a person in need. And maybe they will get a lot more than they ever put in. Maybe they will get the money that I put in but never needed. I am fine with this idea. I like the idea of helping someone when they need it, and trusting that the help will be there when I need it.
But our insurance companies clearly do not work this way. The system is broken. And it needs to be fixed.
You can click on the SiCKO button in the sidebar to learn more about what you can do about the broken health care system in America.